Showing posts with label University. Show all posts
Showing posts with label University. Show all posts

November 19, 2016

Trump Settles on Suit for Trump University Rip-Off $25 Million



 Trump with Secretary of State Bundi who refuse at the time to bring charges on the University scam


Donald J. Trump has reversed course and agreed on Friday to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits stemming from his defunct for-profit education venture, Trump University, finally putting to rest fraud allegations by former students, which have dogged him for years and hampered his presidential campaign.

The settlement was announced by the New York attorney general just 10 days before one of the cases, a federal class-action lawsuit in San Diego, was set to be heard by a jury. The deal averts a potentially embarrassing and highly unusual predicament: a president-elect on trial, and possibly even taking the stand in his own defense, while scrambling to build his incoming administration.

It was a remarkable concession from a real estate mogul who derides legal settlements and has mocked fellow businessmen who agree to them.

But the allegations in the case were highly unpleasant for Mr. Trump: Students paid up to $35,000 in tuition for a programs that, according to the testimony of former Trump University employees, used high-pressure sales tactics and employed unqualified instructors.

The agreement wraps together the outstanding Trump University litigation, including two federal class-action cases in San Diego, and a separate lawsuit by Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. The complaints alleged that students were cheated out of thousands of dollars in tuition through deceptive claims about what they would learn and high-pressure sales tactics.

“I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. “The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result, and I am pleased that their patience — and persistence — will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.”

The settlement is a significant reversal from Mr. Trump, who had steadfastly rejected the allegations and vowed to fight the lawsuits, asserting that students filled out evaluations showing they were mostly happy with what they had learned in seminars. When political opponents pressed him on the claims during the campaign, Mr. Trump doubled down, saying he would eventually reopen Trump University.

“It’s something I could have settled many times,” Mr. Trump said during a debate in February. “I could settle it right now for very little money, but I don’t want to do it out of principle.”

He added, “The people that took the course all signed — most — many — many signed report cards saying it was fantastic, it was wonderful, it was beautiful.”

But the position of Mr. Trump and his legal team appeared to soften soon after his election victory on Nov. 8. At a hearing last week, Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, expressed interest in moving toward a settlement. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s lawyers were seeking to delay the trial in one of the California cases until after his inauguration on Jan. 20, while also requesting that he be allowed to testify on video.

At a hearing on the case in San Diego on Friday, Mr. Petrocelli said Mr. Trump had settled the case “without an acknowledgment of fault or liability.”

The judge overseeing the two California cases, Gonzalo Curiel, was thrust into the limelight of the campaign in May when Mr. Trump spent several minutes at a rally denouncing the judge’s decisions in the case, calling him a “hater” and questioning his impartiality because of his Mexican heritage.
 
After he faced days of criticism for his remarks on the judge, Mr. Trump released a statement saying his words had been “misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage.” He also asserted that he was justified in questioning the fairness of his trial, given various rulings in the case that went against him. Still, he concluded, “we will win this case!”

Judge Curiel said in court Friday that he hoped that the settlement agreement — and the end of the presidential campaign — would begin “a healing process that this country very sorely needs.”

Under the agreement, Mr. Trump will pay $21 million to settle the two California class-action suits and $4 million to settle with the New York attorney general. The lawyers for the plaintiffs waived their attorneys’ fees. The deal still has to be approved in court, which could take months.

About 7,000 students will share in the settlement, according to their lawyers. The customers will be eligible to recoup at least half of what they spent at Trump University, and some could receive a full refund, the lawyers said.

Even before he was in the throes of his presidential bid, Mr. Trump began mounting a vigorous public defense of himself and Trump University. A website, 98percentapproval.com, touted high marks it received from students. A New York Times report in March, though, showed how some students recalled being pressured to give positive reviews.

Trump University, which operated from 2004 to 2010, included free introductory seminars across the country, focusing largely on real estate investing and learning Mr. Trump’s secrets. Students could then purchase more expensive packages costing up to $35,000.

Documents made public through the litigation revealed that some former Trump University managers had given testimony about its unscrupulous and exploitative business practices. One sales executive testified that the operation was “a facade, a total lie.” Another manager called it a “fraudulent scheme.”

Other records showed how Mr. Trump had overstated the depth of his involvement in the programs. Despite claims that Mr. Trump had handpicked instructors, he acknowledged in testimony that he had not.

In addition to the financial rewards, the conclusion of the Trump University cases brings vindication to former students, mostly ordinary people across the country who felt they had been robbed of their savings by Mr. Trump, a successful businessman they respected and admired.

One student, Jeffrey Tufenkian, who enrolled with his wife to pursue a real estate career, told The New York Times in 2011 that the experience “was almost completely worthless.”

“Trump University has no interest in taking care of its customers,” said Mr. Tufenkian, who paid $35,000 for a “Gold Elite” class, which he said at the time wiped out much of his savings.
  
“While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation,” he said in a statement.

Ciaran McEvoy contributed reporting.

July 19, 2016

Hillary Kept Secret a Failure Because Failing was a BIG Deal



Hillary Rodham Clinton as a Wellesley College senior, May 31, 1961.
Source: John M. Hurley / Getty







The first time Bill Clinton proposed to Hillary Rodham was at twilight in England’s romantic Lake District in the spring of 1973. She declined.

The couple had recently graduated from Yale Law School and were at a crossroads in their two-year relationship. While the spurned Bill returned home to teach at the University of Arkansas and prepare to run for office, Hillary moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and rented a room near Harvard to study for the bar exam and begin work for Marian Wright Edelman at the Children’s Defense Fund.

Hillary loved Bill but could not imagine herself making a life in his home state of Arkansas. Though she had grander ambitions, she still felt pulled in two directions. And then she got a nudge in what proved to be the right direction from an unexpected source: the biggest failure of her young life — one that she kept secret from friends and the public for 30 years, and that would have historic implications as well.

The sky was the limit, or perhaps Arkansas was.

Like her Rhodes scholar boyfriend, Hillary had been a politically minded overachiever for years. The Illinois native and former Goldwater girl had become a Democrat at Wellesley College during the late 1960s and enjoyed her first taste of national fame when she delivered the commencement address at the school’s graduation — one of several student addresses featured in the June 1969 issue of Life magazine. After Yale, the sky was the limit, or perhaps Arkansas was.

As legendary Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein chronicles in A Woman in Charge, there were plenty of reasons for Hillary to avoid Arkansas. For one, moving there would mean she’d likely have to take a teaching job like Bill or work at a local law firm — not exactly her life’s ambition. Her friends thought she was crazy to even consider it, and Bill’s mother, Virginia, who had met Hillary in New Haven, was not a big fan of hers. Bill had always dated flashier women, including a former Miss Arkansas, and Virginia was not convinced that Ms. Rodham was good enough for her son. But after Hillary rejected his proposal in England, Bill was able to talk her into visiting Arkansas that summer … and into taking the Arkansas bar exam. Still, when Bill and Hillary parted after her brief stay in Arkansas, Bernstein writes, “their situation seemed totally unsettled.” 
After sitting for the Arkansas bar exam, Hillary, along with 816 other aspiring lawyers, took the District of Columbia’s bar exam in July 1973. Passing that test was the No. 1 prerequisite to securing a decent legal job in the nation’s capital. Hillary then started her job at the Children’s Defense Fund, which she loved. Living alone in Cambridge, and without Bill, was hard, though. Hillary spent most of her salary, she later admitted, on telephone calls. “Despite the satisfaction of my work,” Clinton reflects in her autobiography, Living History, “I was lonely and missed Bill more than I could stand.”
Then, in early November, Hillary received shocking news: She had failed the D.C. bar exam. A full two-thirds of the test’s takers had passed, many of them with a far less impressive educational pedigree than hers. “For the first time in her life, she had flamed out,” writes Bernstein, “spectacularly, given the expectations of others for her.”
The future Mrs. Clinton was hardly the first person, or future leader, to fail a major examination. A Harvard Law School grad, and future first lady, named Michelle Robinson, failed her first attempt to pass the Illinois bar exam. Two future California governors, Pete Wilson and Jerry Brown, fared no better with the California bar. Winston Churchill famously failed the entrance examination to Britain’s elite Sandhurst military academy … twice.
“[M]y heart was pulling me toward Arkansas,” Clinton reflects in Living History. “When I learned that I passed in Arkansas but failed in D.C., I thought maybe my test scores were telling me something.” Northeastern University professor Daniel Urman doubts that the failure was a “deal breaker” for her move to Arkansas and that Clinton’s reading it as a sign probably stems in part from a “motivated retelling of history.” Still, it’s hard not to conjecture what turn her life — and history — might have taken had she passed the D.C. exam.
A few weeks after the bad news, Bill came to visit Hillary in Boston and the two spent time exploring the city and planning their future. He had rented a small house on 80 secluded acres outside of Fayetteville and was eager for her to join him. Which she did, taking up her own post at the University of Arkansas in 1974 after several months in D.C. working on the Senate’s impeachment inquiry staff tied to the ongoing Watergate scandal. In 1975, she finally said yes to a subsequent proposal from Bill, and the two were married in Fayetteville. Hillary would keep her exam failure hidden, however, even from close friends, for the next three decades until she mentioned it, almost in passing, in Living History. The bottom line, as she would write: “I knew I was always happier with Bill than without him.”

November 24, 2013

NYC Police Com. Ray Kelly Gets Booed at Brown University

KellyNYPD commissioner Ray Kelly was booed off stage Tuesday at a public lecture at Brown University.  Reuters
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly was scheduled to host a public lecture and Q&A session at Brown University on Tuesday, but opponents of the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy made sure that didn’t happen.
As Kelly took the stage at the Ivy League university in Rhode Island, dozens of protesters hollered and screamed in opposition to the NYPD’s crime-fighting tactic, which allows police officers to search people on the street without probable cause. The longstanding practice was recently ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. district judge, although Mayor Michael Bloomberg has vowed to appeal. The protesters at Kelly’s lecture became so rowdy that organizers chose to abruptly cancel the event rather than endure the taunts of critics.
Christina Paxson, the university’s president, condemned the incident in an open letter, saying the mob-like scene violated Brown’s commitment to a “free exchange of ideas.”  
“This is a sad day for the Brown community," she wrote. "I appreciate that some members of our community objected to the views of our invited speaker. However, our university is – above all else – about the free exchange of ideas. Nothing is more antithetical to that value than preventing someone from speaking and other members of the community from hearing that speech and challenging it vigorously in a robust yet civil manner.”
The disruption appears to have been part of a concerted effort to keep Kelly from speaking at the school. Some students had tried, unsuccessfully, to convince university officials to cancel the lecture beforehand. Amid protests taking place outside the lecture hall, stop-and-frisk opponents chanted, “No justice, no peace. No racist police.” One protester carried a sign saying “This Is Murder.” In a video published by the media team at Brown Political Review, a student says she was branded a “white supremacist” when she tried to enter the venue to watch the speech. Inside the lecture hall, students can be seen rising in unison, throwing their fists in the air and voicing their opposition to Kelly. After one of the organizers announced the lecture was being canceled, the audience broke out in a round of raucous applause. Kelly exited the building soon afterward, escorted by police.
Supercharged by a standard liberal-conservative divide, media commentators and social media spectators are framing the incident as an issue of free expression versus civil disobedience. On the Daily Beast, Peter Beinart suggested that the students’ rowdy conduct is part of a broader wave of intolerance on college campuses across the country, where voices that don’t conform to a progressive agenda are summarily drowned out. Paxson took a similar stance, suggesting that the behavior is ultimately detrimental to healthy discourse. “Not only was Commissioner Kelly denied the right to speak, members of our community were denied their right to challenge him,” she wrote. “That is unfair to everyone involved and disrespectful to the rights we all embrace and should be vigilant in upholding as members of an academic community.”
Not so, says Elizabeth A. Castelli, from Brown University’s Class of 1979. On Facebook, Castelli countered Paxson’s denunciation of the protesters’ behavior with an open letter of her own. In her estimation, Brown inviting Kelly to lecture on crime-fighting strategies is tantamount to endorsing those strategies. “[T]he lecture itself was advertised as a self-serving public relations-style event, not a critical or intellectually honest presentation as one should expect in a university context,” she wrote.
Paxson promised to reach out to Kelly and express her regret over the incident. Kelly’s office has not yet commented on the issue. The debate continues, meanwhile, on Twitter, where both sides had plenty to say, and neither seems to be in the listening mood.

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